Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hot Smoked Salmon

I've been a big fan of Hot Smoked Salmon since I was a kid growing up in Seattle. It was a big treat to get a hunk of it at the Public Market early on a Saturday morning for consumption with cheese and crackers later in the day while watching a game on TV.

Great Smoked Salmon is easy to make if you are patient and have the right recipe. It all starts off with a nice piece of fresh fish. Even though I'm not a fan of farmed Salmon I do find it to be a pretty good product for smoking because of its uniformity in size and affordability. Alaskan Sockeye is another good choice when in season and on sale.

Salmon & Marinade

I like to marinate my fish in a smoky alcohol for an hour before moving on to the dry cure stage. It cleans up the fish and helps keep the albumin in check. It also imparts a little flavor while helping the cure do a better job. 
  • 3 lb Skinless Salmon Fillet
  • 1/2 cup Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Mezcal, or Bourbon
The Dry Cure

The two important ingredients are brown sugar and salt. You can stop right there if you want. The other spices altered any way you wish. The pink salt is simply a preservative that adds a really nice color to fish. The key is to deliver a product that has a lot of flavor without being too salty. If you are using a skinless filet the curing process will take 4-5 hours. The longer you leave the cure on the saltier the fish will taste. If your filets are skin on then double the curing time.
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbs Pink Salt
  • 2 tbs Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tbs Juniper Berries
  • 1 tbs Ground Cloves
  • 1 tbs White Pepper
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 2 Bay Leaves 
The Rest

After the curing is done you rinse the cure off the fish and set the filets on a wire rack to dry for at least 2 hours. I go the extra step. I let it dry overnight to develop a great pellicle. The pellicle is a skin that forms on the surface of the fish which allows the smoke to not only be absorbed better by the filet but also look a lot better when the smoking is finished. Feel free to season the fish with pepper and dried garlic.

The Smoke

I go with a 3 hours per inch rule on Salmon in the smoker at around 200-225 degrees. The lower the temperature the longer you can expose the salmon to the smoke without drying out the fish. Once the filet reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees it is done. Alder is the traditional wood for smoking salmon. Apple and Cherry and fruitwoods work well too. Hickory and pecan in general are too strong for fish.

Slice and Serve

As soon as it comes out of the smoker it is fair game for immediate eating but the best way to handle it is to let cool on the wire racks to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Once it is cool it is ready to slice and serve.
  • Apple or Alder Wood Chips

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Braised Korean Short Rib Taco's

Boneless short ribs are one of my favorite things to make for dinner parties because because you can make them way ahead of time and they always turn out great. They also have a lot of flexibility in how you prepare, flavor, and serve them.

Today we are going to do a slow cooked version of Korean Barbecue Short Ribs that just melts in your mouth with a beefy sweetness. These ribs have all the flavor of the quick grilled Kalbi variety but they are lot more tasty and versatile in how you can use them.

Braised Korean Short Ribs

5 pounds of boneless short ribs
10 cloves of chopped garlic
fresh cilantro
fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh ginger
1 cup light soy sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup sesame oil
4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 fuji apples
1 diced japanese pear
1 diced medium onion
sesame seeds
garlic powder
salt and pepper
3 1/2 cups beef broth

Preheat oven to 275o F. Season ribs generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat oil to high. In batches, brown ribs on all sides, about 20 minutes total. Transfer ribs to a plate and pour off all but 2 Tablespoons fat from pot.

Add onions, apples, pears, ginger, and garlic. Cook until soft which should take about five minutes. 

Add beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Return the ribs to the pot and bring to a rapid simmer, cover, and place pot in the oven. Cook until meat can be easily pierced with the tip of a pairing knife, about 3 hours. 

With a slotted spoon, transfer ribs to a large straight-sided skillet; discard solids by pouring/straining liquid through a sieve or strainer. 

Skim off fat from cooking liquid. If you have time, place liquid in the refrigerator for a little while, making it easier to discard the fat that will accumulate on top.

Korean Short Rib Taco's

Once we get these puppies cooked off I like to shred them and use them to make asian taco's with the following toppings.

White corn tortilla's
Fresh chopped cilantro
Fresh chopped scallions
Fresh shredded cabbage
Shredded white radish
Fresh chopped jalapeno

Asian-Style Salsa

The ribs are going to have a lot of flavor on their own so what you are trying to do is come up with some type of sauce that will help compliment rather than over power the toppings.

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup sweet-hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup chopped pineapple
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped tomato
2 tsp sriracha sauce
2 tbs. mirin
1 tbs. Asian sesame oil

Friday, October 5, 2012

Beef Short Rib Pastrami Reuben Sandwiches

I have spent the last year trying to raise my talent level when it comes to smoking and curing various types of meats and sausages. It is amazing how much better home cured meats are in comparison to the majority of stuff you buy at stores and deli's.

I am an absolute corned beef and pastrami fiend. One recipe that has been a big hit has been making pastrami or corned beef out of beef short ribs. You can corn/pickle any cut of beef but traditionally the brisket is what you use for corned beef and the tougher navel cut of the brisket is what is reserved for pastrami.

I like using short ribs for pastrami because they have better marbling than todays briskets and they don't have the gristle associated with the navel cut. Better marbling means better flavor. It creates a product that absorbs and distributes the smoke and spices better.

Texture is another big part of why this recipe is so special. When you slow cook a beef short rib good things happen as everything begins to break down. The texture of the final product is very similar to a firmer pot roast with more surface area to develop more crust and intense flavors.

This recipe is pretty simple. You assemble your own blend of pickling spices and briefly toast them in a frying pan to wake up the flavors. You then make a couple of quarts of seasoned brine with the spices and marinate the meat for a few days until it is pickled/cured.

The not so secret ingredient to this brine is either pink salt or a product called Morton's Tender Quick. The nitrates are what helps preserve the meat and gives it the vibrant looking red color corned beef and pastrami is known for.

You can also achieve similar results by using a dry curing rub on the short ribs. I've made it both ways and so far the majority of tasters have picked the pickle/brine method as their favorite because I think it is less intense and salty.

The Tender Quick Brine

2 quarts of water
2 cups Morton Tender Quick
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp whole coriander
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
15 whole juniper berries
6 tbsp pickling spice
Fresh ground coriander, smoked paprika, and black pepper to taste

Start off by lightly toasting your spices in a heated frying pan to open up and refresh their flavors. Add all the ingredients with the exception of the short ribs to two quarts of boing water and let cool to room temperature.

Once the brine has cooled down pour it over the short ribs and cure them for a couple of days in a zip lock bag.  The rule of thumb is it will take 7-10 days of curing for every vertical inch of meat on a slab of brisket. Short ribs cure faster because they are cut up into smaller pieces which means the brine can get at them and into them a lot easier than with a solid piece of brisket.

The longer you soak the ribs in the brine the saltier they are going to be when you take them out. It is a matter of taste but I usually rinse them and soak them in water for four hours to remove the excess salt before I smoke them.

The Pastrami Crust

2 tbsp coarse ground coriander seed
2 tbsp coarse ground black peppercorns
2 tbsp smoked hungarian paprika

Once the short ribs are cured it is time to season and smoke them. I briefly toast black peppercorns and coriander  seeds before grinding them before blending the mixture with smoked paprika. This creates the distinctive spicy crust that generously dusts the short ribs. I smoke them at 225 degrees over applewood for three hours.

I finish them in the oven by braising them in a mixture of a little water (1/2 inch) and some Dr. Pepper for another three hours at 300 degree's while covered in the oven. If you want a nice crispy crust on top take the foil off 30 minutes from the finish.

Short Rib Pastrami Reuben's

5 pounds pastrami style beef short ribs
Sliced rye bread
Swiss cheese
Sauerkraut with caraway seeds
Russian dressing
2 tbsp butter

Take them out of the oven and let them stand for around twenty minutes to cool off. Once cooled you can then start making sandwiches out of them. I find that each individual short rib is good for two very healthy sized sandwiches. I don't even slice it because it is so tender that it just breaks up on its own like pulled pork.

Butter the rye bread and begin grilling it with the swiss cheese on one side and russian dressing with steamed sauerkraut on the other. Add a healthy portion of the warm pastrami on the side with the sauerkraut and russian dressing and top with the slice of bread that has the melted cheese.

To make this sandwich really sing you need to make your own Russian dressing. It is different than the thousand island dressing you get in the stores. Just combine the ingredients as listed below and you are good to go!

Russian Dressing

1/2 cup mayonaise
2 tbsp chili sauce
1 tbsp pickle relish
1 tbsp horseradish
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp tabasco sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

If you aren't a fan of rye bread try this with one of those La Brea Bakery torta's that you can get at Costco. I still butter and grill the Torta but I finish the sandwich in a panini press so that the outside is a crispy and buttery 360 of goodness!

I like serving these sandwiches with a little potato salad, cole slaw, or even just a handful of potato chips along side a kosher dill quarter. A nice hoppy beer such as a really cold IPA helps wash it down and compliment the flavors.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pâté Forestier au Genièvre

On a recent trip to Napa Valley my wife and I sampled some great champagne and nibbled on some of the countries most celebrated Charcuterie. I commented to her that I could make it at home and promised to do it when we returned home from our trip.

She absolutely loves the taste of truffles (who doesn't) so I decided that Pâté Forestier au Genièvre would be a good one to make for her. The keys to making a great Pâté starts with the quality of the ingredients, patience, and diligence of the person making it to follow a few simple rules.

Rule #1 - Cut your meat up into chunks, salt it lightly, and partially freeze it before grinding it. If you do this you will come out with a much better texture.

Rule #2 - Toast your spices in a pan and grind them fresh. If you do this the aromatic flavors will just pop in any recipe that you do.

Rule #3 - Make the mix a day ahead and let the flavors develop before assembling and cooking.

Rule #4 - Fry up a dab of the mix the next day and give it a taste to test your seasonings. If it doesn't taste right adjust the seasonings.

Rule #5 - Use a meat thermometer to make sure that you finish at around 160 degrees. You want to make sure that the Pâté is smooth and doesn't crumble. If the temperature is too high all the fat will leave and you will end up with a dry and crumbly terrine.

All the course ground Pâté I make has the same base recipe. The difference between most of them is simply the garnish or what I like to call the money shot. This is where you really get a chance to shine and make things stand out.

Pâté Forestier au Genièvre 

"Course Ground Meats"

1 lb 2 oz Pork Belly
1/4 lb Ground Pork
1/4 lb Ground Veal
1/8 lb Ground Pancetta 

"The Wrapper"

12 slices Prosciutto

"The Binder"

2 Diced Shallots
6 Fresh Garlic Cloves
1/2 cup Diced Onion
1/4 cup Cognac
4 Chicken Livers
2 tbsp Port
1/4 Cup heavy cream
1 Egg 

"The Spices"

1 tsp Ground Cloves
1 tbsp Juniper Berries
1 tsp Allspice
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Coriander Seed
1/2 Stick Cinnamon Bark

1 tbsp Course Ground Pepper
2 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Pink Salt 

"The Money Shot"

Truffle Salt
Truffle Oil
1/2 cup toasted Walnuts
1 Tbsp Sherry

Cut the meat into chunks and partially freeze. Once meat is around 70% frozen grind it using the course blade.

Marinate chicken livers in cognac a minimum of three hours then combine in food processor with the garlic, shallots, onion, port, cream and egg to form the binder.

Toast Black Pepper, Juniper Berries, Coriander, Cinnamon Bark, and Cloves. Grind them fresh and combine with the Ginger, Nutmeg, Thyme, Salt, and Pink Salt to make the Pâté spice blend.

Combine the ground meat, binder, spices and blend together in a non reactive container. Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to blend together

(I like making a dozen small individual terrines every time I make up a batch of this. We eat a couple and them vacuum pack and freeze the rest. It is great to have something homemade and elegant like that in your freezer that you can thaw out quickly and serve to guests.)

The next day you want to toast up half a cup of walnuts in a pan and then chop them up.

Next you saute your mushrooms with a little olive oil. Finish with sherry and truffle salt. Once the mixture cools add truffle oil to build the flavor. Mix mushrooms and walnuts with the forcemeats.

Line twelve mini loaf pans with plastic cling wrap. Drape the slice prosciutto lengthwise in each pan. Fill each pan with the mixture and wrap up with the prosciutto.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Place the loaf pans in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with boiling water until it reach half way up (water-bath) the mini loaf pans. Cover the roasting pan with foil and cook until the Pate reaches 135 degrees. At that point take off the foil and cook until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees which allows the prosciutto to crisp up a bit.

Take it out of the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature. Take them out of the molds and remove any excess fat. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight while weighted down.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Spicy Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak isn't the most diet friendly menu item on the planet. I like it every once in awhile because it is very tasty, inexpensive, and fairly easy to make. I dress it up big time with country sausage gravy, biscuits, and smashed potatoes on the side. Sometimes I add a couple of Chipolte peppers with Adobo sauce to the gravy when I want to take it up a notch.

Spicy Chicken Fried Steak

3 pounds Cube Steak
1-1/2 cup Milk for the egg wash 
2 Cups Milk for the Gravy
2 Eggs
2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Canola Oil
Cajun Seasoning
One tube of Bob Evans Hot Sausage
Chipolte pepper with Adobo sauce (Optional)
As much black pepper as you can stand
Start off by seasoning the cube steak with salt and a lot of black pepper. Let it rest for an hour or so. Combine flour, panko, bread crumbs, Cajun seasoning, and black pepper to make the breading.

Make your egg wash by whisking together two eggs and milk. Dip one piece of meat in the egg wash and then give it a dip in the flour/panko/bread crumb mixture followed by another dip in the egg wash followed by a final dip in the flour/panko/bread crumb mixture. Repeat the procedure until all the meat is breaded.

Heat up a skillet and fry up the sausage and set aside when finished reserving the oil to fry the steak in. Add Canola oil to sausage drippings and bring up to approximately 375 degrees. Fry the steak while trying not to overcrowd the pan. Drain the excess oil from them when finished by placing the steaks on paper towels

Now it is time to make your gravy.  Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan. Allow grease to heat up.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix flour with grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Keep cooking until it reaches a deep golden brown color.

Whisking constantly, pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Add sausage, salt, and pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until gravy is smooth and thick.

Throw the steaks on a plate, smother the steaks and potatoes with country gravy, and have a decadent chow down.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Making Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky is really easy to make if you have a smoker or food dehydrator. I have been recently experimenting with it lately and have been pretty pleased with the results.

Top Round Beef Jerky

5 lbs - thinly sliced top round
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons fine ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated onion or onion powder
2 teaspoons granulated or powdered garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 level teaspoon pink salt
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar

Partially freeze the meat and thinly slice against the grain at approximately 1/4" thick. I use a meat slicer because that keeps everything uniform so it dries evenly in the dehydrator. Mix marinade and marinate/cure for at least 12 hours.

Dehydrate at 160 degree's until it is dry but not brittle. Drying time varies due to thickness of the meat, humidity in the air, and the type of dehydrator you are using. Once it has cooled you can either vacuum seal it or store it in a zip lock in the fridge.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Best Hangtown Fry

The Hangtown Fry originated in the gold fields of California back in the 1850's. Legend has it that a miner struck it rich and went into a restaurant in Placerville, Ca and asked for the most expensive meal that they could make. The combination of fried oysters, eggs, bacon and cream was what they were able to come up with.

Our version isn't the original but I think you are going to like it a lot better even though you have to go through a couple of extra steps to assemble what is basically a frittata. We layer this dish in a way that doesn't allow any of the ingredients to overwhelm each other.

One pint extra small shucked oysters
1/2 lb of diced bacon
2 cups sliced mushroom
1 cup diced fried potato
1 cup diced onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
3 cups fresh spinach
6 eggs
1/4 cup  whole cream

1/4 cup butter

Oyster Breading

Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Soak the oysters overnight in buttermilk.

Preheat oven broiler to high.

Fry the bacon in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat until almost crisp. Remove the bacon and fry the potatoes until crisp with the onions and set aside with  the bacon. Dredge the oysters in a mixture of flour, panko, and corn meal and deep fry for 90 seconds and set aside.

Add the potatoes, onions, spinach, mushrooms, garlic to a hot pan. Saute for a few minutes in hot butter then whisk in the eggs, cream, tabasco, and nutmeg. Fold into the pan while stirring at medium heat in the same you would make an omelet.

Broil in oven until eggs are set than take out and top with fried oysters, bacon, and Parmesan cheese. Place the frittata back under the broiler to finish cooking.

Divide into 4 portions and serve hot.